Social media app Parler says that revelations of behind-the-scenes government-backed censorship via the “Twitter Files” after Elon Musk invested $44 billion in buying the former Big Tech crown jewel has vindicated the company from allegations it served as a platform to facilitate Jan. 6, 2021’s events.
In a Jan. 11 company blog post, Parler’s Head of Policy and Legal and historian Benjamin Chayes surmised as such, lamenting that, “The facts that, for example, #HangMikePence was trending on Twitter at the time, and that Parler had been referring examples of violent and inciting content to law enforcement in the weeks leading up to the 6th, fell on deaf ears.”
What Parler refers to is the app’s removal from Google Play and the Apple App Store following former U.S. President Donald Trump’s ubiquitous deplatforming from Twitter, Facebook, and virtually all other media and social media platforms following J6.
Google told Parler in an email on Jan. 8 that the ban was to “protect user safety,” and that Parler would only be allowed to return if it were to “implement robust moderation” against “egregious content.”
Apple similarly told the company, “Our investigation has found that Parler is not effectively moderating and removing content that encourages illegal activity and poses a serious risk to the health and safety [of users],” following what appeared to be an organized brigade of reports and complaints to App Store moderators.
You are now signed up for our newsletter
Check your email to complete sign up
The move just happened to coincide with an exodus of users from Twitter so great following Trump’s ban that Parler was pushed to the #1 seat on the App Store.
MORE ON TWITTER AND CENSORSHIP
- Twitter Bans Antifa Accounts for Brandishing Rifles at ‘Transgender Storytime’ Session
- Canada Contracts AI-Powered Firm to Surveil Vaccine Skeptics on Twitter
- Post Office Law Enforcement Arm Being Used to Surveil Internet for Right-Wing Content
Content shared on Parler at the time of the crackdown on both Trump and the flow of information surrounding the agent provocateur-style Capitol Building riots was so significant that video footage was harvested from the platform, archived on ProPublica, and used extensively during the Democrat’s spurious case to unsuccessfully impeach an already-ousted Donald Trump for the second time.
At-the-time CEO John Matze responded on his own platform to Apple’s demands to self-censor, “Apparently they [Apple] believe Parler is responsible for ALL user generated content on Parler.”
“Therefor [sic] by the same logic, Apple must be responsible for ALL actions taken by their phones. Every car bomb, every illegal cell phone conversation, every illegal crime committed on an iPhone, Apple must also be responsible for,” Matze continued.
“Standards not applied to Twitter, Facebook or even Apple themselves, apply to Parler,” added Matze.
The company refused to comply with Apple and Google’s demands to harmonize speech on its platform, and was removed from both venues.
The decimation of a competitor to the Big Tech keyring of apps was so severe that Amazon Web Services took the extraordinary measure of deplatforming the company completely, which subsequently resulted in Parler being completely erased from the Internet.
Calls to violence
Parler sued AWS in mid-January of 2021, claiming in pleadings, “AWS both blamed the rift on supposed failures in Parler’s already controversial content moderation policies, and aired the dispute in the court of public opinion by leaking its termination message to the media.”
The company also filed a Motion to Seal, claiming that Parler staff were “suffering harassment and hostility, fear for their safety and that of their families, and in some cases have fled their home state to escape persecution.”
The “harassment and hostility” was so pointed that filings stated Matze and his family were forced into hiding “after receiving death threats and invasive personal security breaches.”
A change of guard
Matze was terminated by the Parler Board of Directors just a few weeks later on Feb. 3.
After the ousted CEO took his termination to the public sphere, Parler investor and media personality Dan Bongino tore into his former employee in a 6-minute video published on Facebook, “I have no personal gripe against John, the CEO, at all. I want to be crystal clear. But John decided to make this public, not us. We were handling it like gentlemen and John decided somehow to make this public or put out this memo that was made public via press reports.”
Bongino continued, “So here’s what really happened: we were the ones, in fact, fighting to get Parler back up. It was some really bad decisions made by people on the inside. And listen, this isn’t us airing dirty laundry, this is protecting a company that is absolutely committed to free speech.”
“There were two separate visions for the company. And I dunno what John is saying in his reports out there, but this free speech vision, that was ours: the other owners of the company,” he added.
As of Feb. 2, 2021, and even with Matze’s removal, Parler was still unable to find a platform that would both offer services and was capable of meeting its usage demands.
Yet even after Parler returned to the internet in late February, Apple still refused to allow iPhone and iPad users to install the app, claiming, “There is no place for hateful, racist, discriminatory content on the App Store,” in a letter to the company.
“As you know, developers are required to implement robust moderation capabilities to proactively identify, prevent and filter this objectionable content to protect the health and safety of users,” Apple added.
Shortly after Musk’s turbulent acquisition of Twitter closed in November of 2022, the world’s at-the-time richest man told the public, “The Twitter Files on free speech suppression soon to be published on Twitter itself. The public deserves to know what really happened.”
And that’s exactly what Musk did.
Releases of select internal company communications conducted by Twitter’s previous leftist management reveal a score of overt collusion with both the White House and federal law enforcement agencies demanding, coercing, and nudging the platform to both algorithmically deamplify and directly ban content that was inconvenient to its narrative on the 2020 Election, Jan. 6, and Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).
In one such late December of 2022 release, journalist David Zweig showed internal memos published by Lauren Culbertson, head of U.S. Public Policy, that the Joe Biden administration was “very angry” that Twitter hadn’t done what it felt was enough to censor the narrative surrounding mandatory masking and vaccination.
The memo, which was also dated in December, stated that “The Biden team was not satisfied with Twitter’s enforcement approach as they wanted Twitter to do more to de-platform several accounts,” specifically former New York Times reporter Alex Berenson, who moved on to become a staunch critic of the establishment COVID response.
Culbertson added, “Because of this dissatisfaction, we were asked to join several other calls,” which she described as “very angry in nature.”
In a Jan. 3 release, journalist Matt Taibbi showed that in 2017, Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), at the time Co-Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, used his influence to pressure Twitter with the threat of a legislative crackdown on social media to force compliance with the “Russiagate” hoax, which alleged that Trump had conspired with the Kremlin to defeat Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Twitter’s Colin Crowell, at the time Vice President of Global Public Policy & Philanthropy, penned an email to former CEO Jack Dorsey following a meeting with Warner’s team, “Warner has political incentive to keep this issue at top of the news, maintain pressure on us and rest of industry to keep producing material for them.”
In response, Twitter formed an internal “Russia Task Force” in an attempt to ferret out state-sponsored accounts and satisfy the Warner team’s requirements.
But Taibbi stated that the Russia Task Force ultimately found “no evidence of a coordinated approach,” noting that “all of the accounts found seem to be lone-wolf type activity.”
In the entire search, the Force could only find 15 accounts connected with Russia and considered “high risk.”
The majority spent under $10,000 in advertising on the platform. Only two spent more, one of which was state media outlet Russia Today.
Parler took full advantage of what leverage the exposés present to clear the company’s name.
“But what has become incontrovertible only recently, thanks to Elon Musk’s release of the ‘Twitter Files,’ is evidence pointing to the actual motivation behind Parler’s deplatforming: the desire to bury all the uncensored content that Parler allowed to be shared on the web,” the blog post stated.
Peikoff and Cheyes continued, “Remember Hunter Biden’s laptop? The Wuhan lab-leak? The Great Barrington Declaration? Or maybe you missed all of that back then, exactly as an amalgamation of not-yet-fully-identified crony tech ‘leaders’ and government agents intended,” referencing different topics addressed in the Files, which has already ballooned to more than a dozen segments.
“It’s not merely the content of the Twitter Files themselves that we find vindicating,” Parler told the world. “When [Elon Musk], who arguably has better things to do (building rockets, cars, and other technologies he hopes will save humanity), thinks he needs to spend $44 billion on a platform to save free speech, we think it’s safe to say Parler’s raison d’être has been proven.”
The company poses itself as the most sound online public square for those valuing freedom of speech, “Parler recognized then, as it does now, that it is our quest for truth that makes us human, that endless debates are what characterize life in a free society, and that the freedom to disagree, even with ‘settled science,’ is a vital component of human flourishing.”
Adding, “Are those who worked to build and rebuild Parler—not to mention the users who stuck with us—now merely to take comfort in the fact that a far-from-perfect Twitter 2.0 is nonetheless proof-of-concept for what a social media platform might be and ought to be: interaction with real people, free from manipulative algorithms, free from creepy stalking, and free from censorship (even of the ‘transparent’ variety)?”
Despite the optimistic outlook, Parler’s communique — however correct — may be a proverbial “hail Mary” aiming to save a struggling company by bringing it back into the conversation in a social media climate that has since seen Trump’s Truth Social platform, the Mastodon Fediverse cluster, and even Gettr, take first of mind when it comes to Twitter alternatives.
Just one day before the missive on Jan. 10, The Verge reported that Parler parent company Parlement Technologies, “Laid off a majority of its staff and most of its chief executives over the last few weeks.”
The purges, which “according to multiple sources familiar with the matter” transpired over the course of November and December of 2022, were so deep that only 20 employees remain “working at both Parler and the parent-company’s cloud services venture.”
The “cloud services venture” refers to a September of 2022 $16 million acquisition of California-based Dynascale, an attempt to create an “un-cancelable” alternative to Amazon Web Services after Parler’s deplatforming experience.